At work I deal with a wide and varied range of things, one of them came up as a result of several clients contacting us with the same problem regarding accessing medical treatment.  So out of curiosity my boss decided we would do a Freedom of Information Request to all the PCT’s in England to look if this was a National issue or a Local one.

Anyhow this blog isn’t about the FOI request but some snippets of information that turned up as a result of this.  The information regards two specialist operations, where in the UK there are only 2 surgeons’ providing both types of operation. 

Now we actually got the costs of these operations, something which we hadn’t asked for.  Now you would think that these operations are being carried out in the same place with the same surgeons regardless of where you live in the UK would cost the different PCT’s the same amount.  However this is not the case, the cost of one of the operations varied from £42,000 for some PCT’s all the way up to £65,000 for another PCT. 

Now this variance makes the mind boggle; a £23,000 difference for just having a different post code is extortionate.  Maybe if it was a few thousand differences you could understand it but this size of difference is just wrong.  Where is this £23,000 going, does the costs of hiring an operation theatre change if someone’s from Manchester or Bristol? Do people from different areas have tougher skin and require more expensive instruments.  Or is it a case that the administrative costs of different areas account for this huge disparity?  Which is more likely.  If that is the case then you may well be living in an PCT area where they are funnelling money in to administrative staff rather than treating you.

The second operation was seemingly better managed price wise and the variance between the PCT’s was a few thousand pounds, ranging from £14,000 to £15,500.  However for this operation we found out something rather alarming.  Three years ago this operation only cost the NHS £10,000 but in the subsequent years rose year on year to be £14,000.  A 40% increase in cost in just 3 years, now surely the resources used in this operation have not increased by 40% in price. 

We know that the cost of the doctors and nurses hasn’t gone up in that time as there is a public sector pay freeze, and surely for any operation that has to be the big cost of the operation.  We can accept that the likes of heating and lighting prices have gone up, but have they really gone up by the tune of £4000 per patient in 3 years? I highly doubt that.  So where has this extra £4000 gone?

Both are examples of obvious NHS waste where the money that is supposed to go in to treating people to make them better is being syphoned off in to administrative people who are filling up half of the total number of jobs that exist in the NHS.  Is some admin person going to make your ingrowing toe nails go away?

Then there was yesterday’s story in the Telegraph about the NHS paying £20,000 to find a doctor to cover one week’s work, and another paying £14,000 to cover a gynaecologist for 4 days.  The list in the Telegraph was huge listing more and more waste by the NHS. 

There are thousands of people who want to save the NHS just the way it is, because reforming it would be bad and if the reforms come in all the Hospitals will explode.  The NHS in its current form shouldn’t be saved it’s an inefficient organisation, trying to melt an ice berg with a match would be more efficient than the NHS is in its current form. 

So people you should be embracing the change to the NHS, cutting out this waste and mismanagement brought in by 13 years of Labour ineptitude.  If you want your NHS still hear and still free in 40 years’ time embrace the changes and lets trim the fat off the NHS. 
Of late all you have really heard from the Labour party and the left in general is complaints about reforms to the NHS, which are long overdue.  They have done as much scaremongering as they possibly can about how the NHS will change in to some American System and if you can’t afford to pay then you will basically die in the streets. 

However if we cast our minds back to 2010, the Labour party themselves were saying that reform was needed and that bringing in private companies to the NHS would benefit the system and make it better for everyone.  Yet now in opposition they apparently just want to oppose everything that is being done, regardless if it’s needed or will benefit society. 

Anyhow back to the point, the NHS I think everyone approves of and likes; and its always the corner stone of any general election campaign.  As you can win over some swing voters by saying you’ll pump in x many millions of pounds to cancer treatment or maternity care. 

However come 2015, the Labour party have put themselves in a very tight corner.  For them to be able to legitimately use the NHS as a campaigning tool, there is only one situation that they will be able to legitimately use; and that is that the NHS is in a worse situation than it is now be that patient care has got worse or its costing a lot more money to operate the NHS than now with increased bureaucracy. If the changes do very little and its much about the same as it is now, then they have no grounds if the NHS is more efficient and treats patients quicker, patients are happier or it saves money then they have shot themselves in the foot. 

The point of an opposition party is to oppose things that are bad for the country, where as the NHS reform is much needed.  However Labour seem to think that they can win votes by just opposing everything the government does which will win them the hard-line socialist vote who are inherently opposed to any Conservative policy, which they already have.  Their other policies are either about as coherent as a very drunk person or as easy to find as a needle in a haystack. 

As a person interested in politics I find the Labour position bemusing at best and confusing at worst.  As a member of society I am shocked especially at their stance on the NHS, as it’s almost as if they are willing the NHS to get worse in that people are suffering more, waiting longer and in some cases dyeing when they didn’t need to; that stance to me I find particularly abhorrent. As a conservative I encompasses all of those points, however although there is a sense of inevitability of the result of the next general election I think we need to tread carefully as a Conservative majority is ours to lose at this point and we need to keep highlighting the inherent flaws that permeate through the current opposition that we face. 
The principles behind the NHS are great, its one example in society where everyone is considered equal regardless of job, creed, sexuality or gender.  It’s supposed to be a place where we can all access health care for free when we need it. 

However in today’s modern world the NHS has become a lumbering dinosaur burdened by bureaucracy and red tape. If you look at the staffing figures you’ll see that of the 1.4 million people employed by the NHS only 700,000 are clinical staff like doctors, nurses and physical therapists.  Under Thatcher and Major we saw a small number of non-clinical staff, which once 1997 came was rapidly increased to the place where we now have a 50/50 split of clinical/non-clinical staff.  Not once in any of the private sector companies I have worked for has there been an imbalance like that. 

If we want an NHS for another +60 years then we need to act now and bring the service in to the twenty first century; as there is no point in having a twentieth century company working in the twenty first century. 

The NHS needs modernisation, and if that means to get the best possible services for the people of the country we have to involve private companies then we should embrace that.  After all the surgeons doing the operations in the private sector are the same surgeons who also work for the NHS.  If these private companies bring down the cost of having operations done, with the same people doing them, then again surely that is the best thing for the NHS.  If we can save billions of the NHS budget and redirect that money to clinical staff it’s win win. 

The labour opposition to the reform of the health service is opposition for opposition’s sake.  In their own manifesto for 2010 they said the following;

“We will support an active role for the independent sector working alongside the NHS in the provision of care, particularly where they bring innovation,”

So they themselves have said that the private sector working within the NHS is a good thing as they can bring in new ideas.  Yet now in opposition they are looking to score cheap political points by opposing the very thing that they would have done had they been elected. 

So we are now faced with two options, we can support the reform of the NHS that will make it better and stronger and ready to deal with the needs of the twenty first century or we can oppose the reforms and leave ourselves with an outdated antiquated heavily bureaucratic system that’s not fit for purpose.  I myself only see one viable option and that is to back the reforms 100%.